Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards shows the difference in water quality between Detroit and Flint after testing, giving evidence after more than 270 samples were sent in from Flint that show high levels of lead during a news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015 outside of City Hall in downtown Flint, Mich. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)
In Flint, Mich. there is a famous block of concrete that for decades has served as a community message board. Like an old-school Facebook feed, residents use it to post personal news, images, upcoming events and commentary in sprawling graffiti.
This week, several residents went to “The Block” (or “The Rock,” depending on who you ask) with a message. In big, black capital letters they painted: “YOU WANT OUR TRUST?? WE WANT VA Tech!!!” Underneath they wrote “PSI” and circled it in red with a line through it. It stands for Professional Service Industries Inc., the independent business the city hired to test its water for contamination, and which the residents don’t trust.
They want Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech’s environmental engineering professor who once led, almost entirely on his own, a crusade against the federal government’s failure to protect residents of Washington, D.C. from lead in the city’s water. And he won.
It was Edwards, 51, who more than a decade earlier discovered corrosion in the nation’s capital’s pipes that caused lead to seep into the water supply and pass through kitchen faucets and shower heads. After exposing that water crisis in 2004, he spent six years challenging the Centers for Disease Control to admit they weren’t being honest about the extent of the damage the lead had on children.
He burned through thousands of dollars of his own money, as well as $500,000 from a MacArthur Foundation genius grant he won in 2008, to take on the federal government. He was harassed, lampooned, and threatened. He lost friends.
Then, in 2010, he was vindicated when it was proven that the CDC had lied to the public in a misleading report, which falsely claimed lead levels in the water had not posed a health risk to D.C. residents.
Source: Washington Post